Monday, April 3

My Frugal Miser - March Expenses: $12,223


March was likely the most expensive month of 2017 because I had to pay my 2016 taxes.  A portion of the $7,536 was a repayment for the ACA credit I took for health insurance.  Ouch.  I guess the flip side to the check I wrote the IRS is that I owed so much because my income was much higher last year.  I sold several profitable stocks, and my Amazon Flex income was outstanding.

We spent a week working in DC, and restaurants are expensive there.  We ate in the apartment for several meals, but those $20+ restaurant bills add up fast.  My spending on fuel was high.  Discover Card had a 5% cashback promotion during the first quarter so I stocked up on fuel gift cards.

The other two unusual charges included the $500 annual maintenance fee I pay for my self-directed IRA and the $1,200 I spent on an Angie's List deal for 40 hours of handyman work.  I am hiring a contractor to help me get the bathroom remodeled and do some other repairs.

March Expenses:  $12,223

$1,401 Auto ($583 gas, $20 repairs/maintenance, $798 depreciation)
$500 Bank Fees (annual self-directed IRA fees)
$22 Clothing
$0 Computer
($367) Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol) income this month
$421 Food
$57 Gifts Given
$1,184 Household/Housing/Home Repair
$28 Health and Dental Insurance (prepaid 2017 health insurance premiums in December 2016)
$0 Investment Expense
$689 Interest Expense*
$218 Medical/Dental
$0 Miscellaneous
$0 Personal Care
$0 Subscriptions
$7,536 Taxes
$182 Sharing Economy Expenses (dedicated phone, tolls, car washes, etc.)
$279 Utilities
$74 Vacation

*Interest expense includes student loans and the loan on my car.  As both rates are below 2%, I am completely comfortable paying the interest each month and investing the money that I would otherwise use to pay off these loans.  In March, I paid $620 to E*Trade for "hard to borrow" interest on a short sale of Sears Holdings stock. 

Saturday, April 1

My Frugal Miser - March Income: $10,163


March was a great month.  A significant amount of income (more than $4,000) was from work last month.  I cranked up my rideshare activity as well as my Amazon Flex deliveries.  I also worked several meeting jobs.

I received rental income from all but one property.  That home is now rented, so my rental income for April will be higher than March.


March Income: $10,163

$2,163 Mystery Shopping and Hospitality Jobs
$480 Uber
$85 Lyft
$20 Postmates
$1,783 Amazon Deliveries
$5,795 Rental Income
($184) Dividends and Interest (Investment Accounts)
$0 Realized Gains (Losses) on Investments
$20 Other Sources

Notes:  
  • I don't include transactions in my retirement accounts.  This includes rental income, dividends and capital gains and losses.
  • I include merchandising and hospitality work in the mystery shopping category since the companies that I shop for provide this extra side work. 

Friday, March 17

Another Frugal Vegas Vacation

After grinding for two months I decided to get away for a few days last week.  Frontier had a great sale on flights and I was able to book a round-trip to Las Vegas for under $200.  I am also visiting Denver for a day for less than $40.  Originally I was not going to rent a car, but the rates make it logical to do so.  Since the hotels I am staying at are not on the strip, public transportation would take forever, and Uber rides would actually cost more than renting a car.

My hotels were free.  This is interesting, because the last time I was in Vegas was six months ago in September.  I didn't do much gambling then, but I did win on that trip because I hit my first and only Royal Flush.  I would love to know how a casino decides what to offer in comps to get players to visit.  I received  4 free nights and $35 in free bets.  Basically all my meals were free by using points accumulated on my player's card.

I never expect to win, but once again I came home with more money than I started.  Virtually all my gambling was on video poker, where I won $300.  My blackjack sessions were break-even.

For the frugal traveler, both Frontier and Spirit have aggressive sales from time to time.  I've signed up to receive email alerts from both companies.

Tuesday, March 7

My Frugal Miser - February Expenses: $4,412


February was a bit expensive.  I paid the $450 annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.  This is really a $150 fee with the $300 travel rebate I received.  I also completed a 0% cash advance on a credit card but had to pay a $291 fee for it.

I had several work-related expenses.  We drove to Birmingham to work on a rental property, which used a lot of gas.  I bought a new phone from Wal-Mart to replace my Republic Wireless Moto X.  The new plan is only slightly more expensive, but my Republic phone had 3G and a very slow processor.  I also decided to buy a monthly unlimited car wash plan.  A fancy new car wash opened up about a mile from my house.  Not having a clean car has kept me from driving for Uber and Lyft on some occasions, and I think this might motivate me to do some more rideshare work.  Finally, I bought two new suits.  Some of the hospitality jobs require a business suit, and the only suit I had got a hole in it.  I bought that suit 10 years ago so it was time to replace it anyway.

It seems like I spend money on vacations every month.  Last month I booked an EasyJet flight we will be taking during our summer European vacation.  I also spent $186 on a roundtrip to Las Vegas... and that included $57 I spent to pick a seat.  While there, I'm going to Denver for a day.  That flight was only $38 roundtrip.  Air travel is so cheap!

February Expenses:  $4,412

$891 Auto ($275 gas, $0 repairs/maintenance, $616 depreciation)
$741 Bank Fees
$949 Clothing
$0 Computer
$55 Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol)
$383 Food
$41 Gifts Given
$42 Household/Housing/Home Repair
$28 Health and Dental Insurance (prepaid 2017 health insurance premiums in December 2016)
$0 Investment Expense
$243 Interest Expense*
$36 Medical/Dental
$0 Miscellaneous
$0 Personal Care
$35 Subscriptions
$0 Taxes
$339 Sharing Economy Expenses (dedicated phone, tolls, car washes, etc.)
$233 Utilities
$396 Vacation

*Interest expense includes student loans and the loan on my car.  As both rates are below 2%, I am completely comfortable paying the interest each month and investing the money that I would otherwise use to pay off these loans.  In February, I paid $202 to E*Trade for "hard to borrow" interest on a short sale of Sears Holdings stock.